Where Stress Fades Away

In my lifetime, I’ve lived in 5 different states (Tennessee, Oklahoma, Texas, Ohio and South Carolina) and one other country aside from the U.S. (Brasil). I was born in a small town in Tennessee (Union City) and from there, we would be transferred several times through my father’s work up until I graduated high school.

At that point, my life followed it’s own strange trajectory that led me back and forth from Tennessee to Ohio more than once.

I still have family in my hometown: my maternal grandmother and a maternal uncle. My mother is the oldest of four and she lost one of her brothers in 2008 (as well as her father in the same year).

Union City has always been “home” to me. Never mind that I haven’t actually resided there in any capacity since 2008-09 and my family and I moved from away there in 1979.

I think the fact that my grandmother still lives in the house I spent so much time in those first few years of my life still keeps me very much grounded to my hometown.

In 1975, the year I was born, the population was roughly 10,000 and today it’s approximately the same. By most accounts, my little birthplace is just that…little.

It never ceases to amaze me that every time we make the trip down from Ohio to Union City, that my own stress levels decrease the further down south we go.

It can be tough to find stress relief when you own a business. This year found industries not just struggling to get through the pandemic through grants, loans and any means of generating revenue but many simply couldn’t survive at all.

We were fortunate to be one of the survivors.

The last year of my life was fraught with stress even before I knew what a Coronavirus was. I had both personal and professional challenges I was trying to sift through and even though the business was riding a high, being busier has it’s own share of stressful circumstances.

As a result, it’s difficult for me to turn my racing mind off. I’ve grown more accustomed to using my downtime to read, exercise, or write.

While those outlets can be stress relievers for me, many times I’m so hyperfocused on the next task in the day it can be difficult to flip the switch and turn things down a notch.

These quick jaunts down to Tennessee almost invariably do that for me.

Because of our hectic work schedules (my mother is also a small business owner), we can usually only get away for a very quick weekend to see family down south. That typically looks like working a half-day on Fridays, hopping in the car for nine hours, spending the day with family on Saturday and heading back first thing Sunday. It’s a lot of travel time for not a lot of downtime.

We made a trip like that this past weekend.

And yet, there’s something strangely peaceful about it for me. Everything slows down in my hometown. There’s no frantic pace I have to adhere to. I can keep a pace that’s just as slow and calming as that southern drawl I grew up with.

If you’re like a lot of my clients, your stress relief during quarantine probably became some combination of television, food and alcohol. I’ve written a fair amount about the last two of those things over the last couple of months.

I am one of those strange people who, when stressed, can barely keep an appetite. It takes everything in me to stay well-fed because stress can do a number on my stomach, making food less appealing in general.

This week’s post is just a kind reminder to check in on your stress levels. Find the things that are holding you back, write them out on a sheet of paper if need be and see what you can temporarily remove from your list of worries.

Time with my mother, my grandmother and my uncle was much needed to recharge my batteries and come back to the madness of the Rev.

For yourself, go for a walk, a hike, play in your garden, learn a new craft, pick up an instrument, teach yourself a new type of cuisine, give your dog a bellyrub, for Christ’s sake turn off the damn television, do something that restores you, renews you, reminds you that most of life’s problems aren’t solved with a remote control or a fork.

For me, it’s some Tennessee sunshine, a good novel, and my Gram’s laughter.

For you, find the things in life where stress fades away. You need it…probably more than you know.

(Below is my Grandmother’s house. She renovated it after my Grandfather passed away in 2008. This will always feel like home to me.)

“We Make Great People Greater”

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